Friday, October 19, 2007

In Which Camp Are Your Pitching Your Tent?

Shortly after I posted last Sunday my home computer began what seems like a sharp descent into hard drive failure (We'll leave speculation as to whether that is a manifestation of coincidence, synchronicity or the Guru's will for another time). I’ve had to leave it shut down until a friend can do some diagnostics and, hopefully, repair it. Hence, I've been posting sporadically from work, and just today was pleased to discover that people have been reading here and posting comments and observations. Thank you all! The more this monologue becomes a dialogue, the more fulfilling it will be for me—and surely the more interesting for all of you.

One of the commentators who posted a response to my last entry took issue with the hypothetical scenario I imagined in which Gurumayi returned to the chair but admitted mistakes, made restitution and asked to be seen as nothing more mysterious or holy than a teacher. Anonymous wrote:

"Hypothetically, it would be absolutely wonderful. However in the two years plus since I completely quit Siddha Yoga, I've somehow managed to totally forget how to speak Hypothetical. The language has escaped me. And thus, I prefer not to hold my breath waiting for the actualization of the hypothesis you pose."

I'm not holding my breath either, Anonymous. If I had been, I suppose I'd be long dead. More and more what fascinates me is not the mystery of Gurumayi's disappearance, or whether she will return, but rather the question—what exactly were we doing during all those years we practiced together? I conjured up a hypothetical future for Gurumayi as an ordinary teacher in order to speculate about her past as an "enlightened, perfected master," what it meant to us, what hold it exerted over us, how much it contributed to the sense of worth we attributed to our practices and to the path itself.

It seems to me that the Siddha Yoga sangham is increasingly separating into two camps—those who are waiting for it all to come springing back, and those who have moved on—with or without a sense of closure. I began this blog feeling that I was out there wandering somewhere in the middle, in no-man's land. It has come as a real surprise that the more I think about SY, and the more I write about it, the less I can imagine it returning as a path, and the less I seem to need or want it to. Maybe writing this blog is my search for closure. And maybe there are others like me who want to consider more deeply what value, if any, those years had for us, if only to aid in the search for whatever of meaning will come next for us.

Wherever you've pitched your tent, I love having you along on the journey!

SeekHer

P.S. I especially want to thank Marta Szabo for inviting the readers of THE GURU LOOKED GOOD to visit here. Marta, your emotionally honest narrative about your time in Siddha Yoga is something truly special. For so long, I fantasized that the day would come when I could write freely, openly and honestly about my experiences of the path. The thought that it would be a kind of betrayal of the path always stopped me. Your example in doing so was—and is—courageous. May many more people follow it in the search for their own truth.

43 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your writing is lovely. I saw the link on your blog on Marta's blog. I would beseech you to change the format of your blog as it is very difficult to read with the white on black. I have to cut and paste it into a word document. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Your writing is gorgeous, please do keep posting. It is bracing and exhilerating to write the truth. I especially love when you were writing about not tying truth up into the pretty red-ribboned syda-endorsed package.

It's the final day of navaratri today, the 9-day festival of the goddess that I used to love while on the path. Four years ago when I came out of denial about what syda really was, I left. I couldn't help myself. And I stopped being able to stomach celebrating the Hindu holidays I once loved.

But last night for the first time since the Great Exodus, I made a gorgeous puja. No, no pictures of false gurus who ransack the shakti. But statues of Durga, Tara and Ganesh all received their avisheks of rose water and pink gerber daisies, while lillies. Everyone was offered pomegranets, lush orange persimmons, dishes of almonds. I felt for the first time I could reown the parts of the tradition I love and see the deities as an expression of my inner self,. It's taken forever.

The heartbreak of giving my love and adoration to a fraud has been brutal. But I'm here to say, cut loose and the healing does eventuallly come.
Please keep writing!

SeekHer said...

Thank you both for your encouragement and feedback. I am experimenting with new formats that will be easier to read--I've just got my new computer up and running and so it may take awhile (sorry that you have to cut and past it Word!)

How moving that you have been able to recover something of beauty and holiness in your puja ritual. I hope to one day be able to do the same. For now, I'm reluctant to even meditate--not out of fear, but because to use the old mantras seems...dishonest. I hope you will be moved to write more about the reclamation of what is meaningful to you, and that others will as well. For now, I'm drinking in the gorgeous detail of your Navaratri puja.

Anonymous said...

I am still in SY, but have never been in it as a social experiement. I feel a need to say that after reading Marta's Blog. Anyway, open and honest?

Anonymous said...

Hello Anon,

Re: "I am still in SY, but have never been in it as a social experiement. I feel a need to say that after reading Marta's Blog. Anyway, open and honest?"

posted October 20, 2007 11:31 AM

Very interested in your thoughts. My soul searching led me to understand that a prime reason for my attraction to SY which began formally in 1981 was for the community of like seekers. How is that for you? I am assuming you don't live in the Fallsburg community's social experiment.

I write as you seem to be reaching out by posting on this specific topic of 'social experiments'.
Do you think the practices are better practiced privately? I think others have talked about such a path being an improvement and not prone to the problems religious orders often face.

Interested in your views.

Anonymous said...

I few years ago, Gurumayi had her leadership people do an elaborate exercise-- what would they do if SY did not leave any successor. It was said to be "hypothetical" (yes, that word...) but clear it was more than that. Now, ask yourself: if you were the guru and you knew you weren't able to leave a successor, what would you do? How (or not) would you relate to those who had been following you for decades? I know what I'd do--back out of the limelight and just basically let the whole scene defuse itself as painlessly as possible.

Cameron D. McIntosh said...

I've been thinking about a statement I made in a comment on the previous blog entry: "Our gurus made fun of human affection--how wrong they were." I regret my wording. I don't recall that the gurus ever knocked human affection (they did distinguish it from divine love). What I was thinking of was their making fun of *infatuation* Here is a highly charged example of enchantment/disenchantment!

I recall one video in which both the successor gurus spoke on this subject. Nityananda's part was especially funny, as he enacted the infatuated person seeing immense beauty in a rock. Then, after the feeling wore off, the rock became an object of derision and was probably tossed in anger.

I recall a poem of Gurumayi which suggested that a love which came and went could not be love: "...love can never have a bitter ending. That was merely passion and temporary infatuation; a transaction of emotions and feelings..." The poem went on to contrast this with the Guru's love.

At the time, these two commentaries gave me a pretty negative view of infatuation. I saw it as a thing to be shunned; one would certainly not profit from responding to those powerful feelings!

A long time has passed since I considered these two descriptions of infatuation, and I've had an awful lot of experiences of infatuation since then. Over the years, I've gradually loosened up my negative feelings, and have actually gotten to like these episodes of heightened awareness which are so extreme that they can really unnerve you. I have come to regard them as a kind of "spiritual test," where God gets you firing on all cylinders and sees how steady the engine is. Who's going to flinch first? Fortunately in my case, the infatuation is almost never mutual.

The first thing that helped was to realize that the heightened awareness was the result of natural mechanisms which inject powerful neurologically active drugs into the system. It was also useful to learn that apparently the attraction has less to due with the physical appearance of the one we are "falling for" than it has to due with invisible ties we have with that person from previous lives. A third thing which has really helped is to remember that my real concern is to be helpful to others. If I'm feeling a tug toward someone or sensing the opposite, I ask myself if becoming very close to this person might be truly helpful to her (alright, I also admit to thinking about myself). I'm also gradually learning how to at least express my appreciation toward that person, directly or indirectly (formerly, I would have been too shy to do so).

While I do agree that blind following of infatuated urges might be embarasing (at best) or tragic (at worst), I think the institution as a whole is quite fun, as long as one exercises a reasonable amount of care.

Yateendra
ex SF garbage man

Anonymous said...

"How is that for you? I am assuming you don't live in the Fallsburg community's social experiment. "

Actually that's fine for me. Except for a couple summers on staff I was not part of the SF experiment. To be honest alot of my memories of the people there we condescending to me if not outright rude. No one ever tried to make friends with me and now in my mind they are are all in blogs like this complaining about it, perhaps I am wrong. On the other hand the Guru seemed to go out of her way to be nice to me, the friendless wonder with no obvious mark of shame on my forehead. I did not dwell on it though, you would never guess that the devotees themselves were may full time tapasya. So now they all want to be friends and value human interaction when for so many years they went around saying, "Avoid that one he/she has no shakti.... Oh he/she has bad karma.... Or my favorite, he/she is a snake in the grass," when I was simply gun shy. So now they want sympathy because the Guru gave them the wrong color lolli. Well you know what, I have always been doing my sadhana in real life, where were you people? Welcome back and ty Gurumayi.
(Trying not to point this at you the responder, but you all know what I say is true about alot of people in the ashrams, admit it, and it is not a folly of the Guru that there has been such a whiplash regardless of what some may say, "now").

---Always wanted to get that off my chest thanks for the blog.

Anonymous said...

LOL, rereading my post above seems a bit harsh, I apologize. At times like this one does tend to go from petal to petal. The post is basically true but not my entire experience. Just that this whole thing is like being attacked all over again like I was sometimes for no reason I could ever fathom. You did hit me right on the head, I have always felt lead to understand things in terms of Himalayan sadhana. If you are still open to spirituality I would recommend checking out some swami rama and the Himalayan Institute. Might be the type of grounding you are looking for. Bye.
-Anon

Anonymous said...

To: Anon

October 21, 2007 1:22 PM
October 21, 2007 5:39 AM

Please keep posting your thoughts. I understand what it was like to feel completely loved/understood by Gurumayi, while others seemed cold and cruel.

Your posts seem exactly like 'rituals of disenchantment' and continued writing here could help you collect your thoughts and feelings. What were the guidelines? Speak your truth and be kind.

Thanks to Christopher for providing the space.

Anonymous said...

Christopher,

You write, “It seems to me that the Siddha Yoga sangham is increasingly separating into two camps—those who are waiting for it all to come springing back, and those who have moved on—with or without a sense of closure.” You forgot the other camp of people: those of us who are practicing Siddha Yoga in whatever personal way that is and who are fine with the “outer yoga” as it is.

Reading your blog, I’m wondering if you truly think that Gurumayi is a false Guru. You obviously got shaktipat and admit to amazing experiences, fulfilling states of self-awareness, etc. Yet you then damn her for wrongs she has committed to others and feel that somehow she should ask forgiveness from the sangham. You don’t however substantiate these in your blog, which as a writer, is a shocking neglect. Are these personal atrocities committed to you? Is it hearsay? Is it all the other stuff you’ve read by people posted on the web? (Even you I’m sure must admit that people do project their own issues, needs, perceptions, expectations, unfulfilled desires, etc. etc. onto Siddha Yoga and Gurumayi). Somehow Gurumayi and the direction she has created for the yoga have failed you and disappointed you. Or do you just miss her physical form?

I have to say it does bother me that you choose to crucify Gurumayi in cyberspace and then ask that everyone who posts here do it with kindness. As you say, “if we can't be kind with one another, what really have we attained after all this time?” I respect the fact you choose to quit practicing Siddha Yoga. I don’t respect that you choose to publicly damn Gurumayi and then expect everyone to respond with kindness. You’re not exactly practicing what you preach. I would have to ask you, what have you attained after all this time?

I do still practice Siddha Yoga. And I happen to feel self-inquiry is “open to the divine contradictions and bittersweet ambiguities of real life” as you put it. Yet I do admit I believe in a greater power and that everything in my life does happen for a reason. When I was a child and undergoing an extremely difficult time, I questioned God, who actually answered me by not only saying to me, “It’s all happening for the best”, He/She then filled me with a calm I never knew before. Gurumayi herself has talked about paradox. Yet ultimately I do think everything is Grace. People question that if God exists why is there suffering in the world? Is this world not a complex creation? Is it not a mystery? Ultimately you either have faith and believe in something Higher, understanding it as a play of consciousness, or you get entangled in the web of maya.

So you’re disillusioned with how Siddha Yoga as an “outward” path has ultimately manifested for you. But if you treasured and valued some vital things you’ve gained from it, you then feel the need to attack it publicly? And if you think you’re not doing that, I would say think again.

You were unhappy that there was this “outer orgy of worship” as you deem it. (And by the way, when Gurumayi walked around the ashram, she didn’t like it that people followed her like a herd of sheep. She continually asked us all to just keep doing our seva or going about our business. So let’s take some responsibility for ourselves, shall we?). I also have to say that at the first orientation I ever attended it was said that if you choose to bow before her, you are bowing to your own inner Self and divinity. So where one chooses to focus his or her worship is an individual matter. One can worship a Guru like some addiction or obsession, or one can choose a path of keener understanding.

So, as I was saying, you were unhappy with this “outer orgy of worship”, yet when Gurumayi removes her physical presence from public access, you damn her for it. Now that’s a paradox. Personally I feel that no matter what she does or doesn’t do, she cannot win with some people. And to those people I have to say, I think you missed the boat. If you really think it was about the outer Guru, then I believe you missed the greatest teaching and treasure this path could ever give you: God dwells WITHIN YOU AS YOU. For me, this teaching is a daily contemplation and a lifetime dharana. And although I currently do not ever see Gurumayi I feel her presence in my life each and every day in the most profound ways. And no, my life is not easy. I don’t have a comfortable life. I lived in the ashram for many years. It’s been a struggle to start anew in the world. Life for me is a struggle in so many ways. It would be soooo easy for me, as many others do, to blame Gurumayi and Siddha Yoga because my life isn’t rosy enough. But I choose gratitude. I do choose to see it all as Grace. I’ve stopped judging how my life looks. And in truth, I have countless blessings in my life. And if this is tying everything up in a neat package, then count me as guilty.
And I have to ask, who’s the one who wants things tied up in neat packages? Because it seems to me that a part of you wants exactly that. Maybe Christopher, there’s a reason for Gurumayi pulling back her physical presence. You say you want divine contradictions and bittersweet ambiguities. Or do you? I sense you feel hurt and frustrated, and perhaps have a great pain of longing. But your choice is not to allow the “outer” path of Siddha Yoga to be what it is and choose to go deeper into yourself. Your choice to go deeper is to chuck the baby out with the bathwater. If that’s the route you’ve chosen then great, good for you. Find peace and joy and contentment. (You’ve chosen to do that AND attack Siddha Yoga publicly and for that you’ve certainly lost my respect). It seems to me I remember Gurumayi saying that at some point you have to let go of everything, the path, chanting, meditation, the Guru’s form, etc. Of course she didn’t mean we have to actually give them up. She meant one has to go beyond the form, EVERY form, to cross over.

The subtitle of your blog is “When the Guru holds us spellbound, how can we ever truly be free?” You also call yourself a “Shakti-junkie”. I don’t even know where to begin with all of that, but I think I’ll just ask you, who kept who spellbound? If you acquiesced to something, where’s your responsibility in that? Personally I always felt Gurumayi wanted me to be free. In fact, those times when I chose dependency, whether consciously or unconsciously, she was like a laser beam cutting through my chains. No, it did not always feel peachy keen when she did that. My ego sometimes rebelled, but I ALWAYS felt freer afterwards. In fact, she took me to a new level of experiencing life. Every single time it happened I grew as a person and felt freer and happier inside. So I knew she wanted me to be free, strong, independent and happy. Call me deluded but I have a contentment and trust in life that I did not have before Siddha Yoga. I value what I’ve received and continue to receive. What did you want from her Christopher? Maybe, just maybe, she did (and does) want your freedom. You were the one who kept you bound.

Ultimately Christopher, I do value your desire to go deeper. I know you, although you and I haven’t seen each other or spoken in years. I used to feel you were someone with great integrity. I can see glimpses of it in your writing, but I have to say I’ve lost respect for you. I do feel you’ve thrown your integrity out the window when you created this blog. And if that’s not kind, then I’m sorry. But I don’t feel you’re being kind. I do hope however you find peace of mind.

Anonymous said...

oh dear anonymous at 4:09 am..."let's take responsibility, shall we?" I have one word for you, ye who received so much from this quick-stir guru-cup-of-grace (kind of like campbell's cup-of-soup):

condescension, condescension, condescension.

your letter to christopher reeks of it.
sorry.

3rdeyeopen said...

Dear Anon 4:09,

How can it all be "Grace" when Grace is just one of the 5 elements of Shiva? Grace is the dissolver of maya. Maya is also another element of Shiva. Therefore, maya is also part of the whole, and to shove it away, to pretend that it's "wrong" to be involved with maya is denying an aspect of our own selves.

GM does not bother me. It's the limited mind and superimpositions from sevites and their pre-conditioned minds over what yoga is. GM to my own experiences, seen with my own eyes, was fair and kind and wise. However, I never longed to be in the "innner circle" because all the lame, bigoted, judgememtal, not got it together on the earth plane, always seemed to be there, esp in my center. My real beef is with those sevites more than GM. Saw and experienced lots of abuse from their selfrighteous, illogical, condescending ways. I highly doubt GM knows what goes on between individuals abusing one another at the ashram and centers and one on one satsanging. And there is where alot of the abuse lies, in misunderstanding the wonderful teachings and then using them to bully and maim others. I had it with these sevites, one is a relative even. Her abuse to me in the name of spirituality has caused a schism. My health is to not take it and see her less. She is still in the clouds and arrogant in her beliefs.

I want to hear ALL the stories, that is how I will reach my conclusions whether GM is full of crap or the real thing or somewhere in between.

Anonymous said...

This poem spoke to me because I feel the two camps I am internally divided into are ones of Grief and Gratitude. I am seeking a Truth that does not change. Siddha Yoga has been a delivery system if you will, and I feel grief for what I believe is missing in it. And. I feel gratitude for how my understanding and awareness has deepened while practicing sy. I do not know quite how it all came about, but I find myself quietly pulling away. No blame - anywhere. It all just is, er, was. Done. Past. I must find what is working for me. Today.
30 plus years and something profound in me has shifted. I am not actually trying to change my feelings in any way. Just honor them. And move on. Or in.

S

And so back to the poem.



The Unbroken

There is a brokenness
out of which comes the unbroken,
A shatteredness out
of which blooms the unshatterable.

There is a sorrow
Beyond all grief which leads to joy
And a fragility
Out of whose depths emerges strength.

There is a hollow space
Too vast for words
Through which we pass with each loss,
Out of whose darkness
We are sanctioned into being.

There is a cry deeper than all sound
Whose serrated edges cut the heart
As we break open
To the place inside which is unbreakable
And whole,
While learning to sing. - Rasani

Anonymous said...

Hi Anonymous "409"
I wish to dialog with you mainly because my husband is still committed to SY and an active participant and I am not, and I need to clarify where I am coming from right now.

Please bear with me while I outline a bit of personal history. I saw Baba in 1974 and at that time felt an immediate inner connection. I later found that I received shaktipat from him. Over the next 30 years or so I spent a lot of time in and around the ashrams and centers, mostly gravitating to humble sevas like dishes, gardening, and spices. I would spend summers living in or near the ashram while my husband would come up on weekends.
I worshiped sucessively SM, Nit,jr., (and with the denouement in 1986), GM as my istadeva. Basic style of yoga was bhakti and karma yoga. Over the years I found myself drifting over to a more jnani style with focus more on the Formless.

Suddenly in spring of 1974 I found myself attracted intensely to Jesus Christ as my ishtadeva. This came to a climax when I had a dream where I came to GM in darshan and she pointed to my heart with her peacock wand and said "Jesus" and "You know where to go now," and I was sputtering "What about kundalini awakening???" and she said "Trust Jesus." Though I did keep going with my husband to the centers, it gradually became apparent to me that I no longer belonged to the path.
After that I went back to the nagging things that I had pushed to the back of my mind before leaving, namely the questions about SM and young women, that had been raised over the years. And the subsequent putative cover ups by the successors. I had been around of course when the NYer article came out in 1994 and had read the article. My conclusion was "How can this be??? My experience of the guru being love and light???" So I ignored it. Another incident was talking with a friend in the late 90's who worked in the schlepping department and said he had actually seen SM's "table." But he and I both said to ourselves well, "whatever, we don't understand, maybe it is tantra, and anyhow it is NOT OUR EXPERIENCE"

Well having found myself no longer practicing SY, I felt free to delve further into these questionable issues. As you are well aware there is much material to be found on the internet. The first time I looked into it, may have been a year or two ago and I was more cursory with it. But this spring upon finding Marta's blog, I felt it incumbent upon me to thoroughly examine all I could find, including joining the group which sardonically refers to itself as "the waterless region."

After doing all this I came to following conclusion.

SM was able to give shaktipat in such unprecedented numbers, because he utilized mysterious energies available to those who practice tantra, especially sexual tantra. The problem with this is that he used young and under-aged women in this endeavor without their understanding this. Perhaps this is not true for all but for those that have come out and said they felt they were the victim of SM's abuse it must be said it is true. Perhaps SM saw this as the end justifying the means; I will never know. Some have concluded that the sexual behavior devolved into just gratification; I have no conclusion about that.

I have seen ample firsthand description of cover ups, threats and intimidation on the part of SYDA to keep this from being more widely known.

I have thus sadly concluded that the Siddha Path has ethical flaws at its core. I realize that I had unwittingly and perhaps not so unwittingly been guilty of what is known in my current path as "corporate sin" in that I have benefited from the abuse by the leaders of SY towards others.

And thus I confess this sin before God and to persons who were abused.

In peace and Love

Former SYer and now Episcopalian

Anonymous said...

TYPO ALERT!!! 2004 NOT 1974

Sorry about the typo, which I did not catch in the following sentence:

"Suddenly in spring of 1974 I found myself attracted intensely to Jesus Christ as my ishtadeva." Should be 2004 not 1974

Apologies

Episcopalian

Anonymous said...

Dear Long Winded One:

********************
I know you, although you and I haven’t seen each other or spoken in years. I used to feel you were someone with great integrity. I can see glimpses of it in your writing, but I have to say I’ve lost respect for you. I do feel you’ve thrown your integrity out the window when you created this blog.

*******************

I think if you had any integrity yourself you would have signed your name to this comment.

What a jerk.

Cameron D. McIntosh said...

I thank all for the wonderful Satsang (company of the truth) which you provided in the last few days. I was under tremendous pressure at work and this focus helped me resist striking out in anger against management (whose actions were quite reasonable, although I disagreed with them).

I come and go in SY discussions; seems like Marta's and this are an improvement over previous forums, where things could get *quite* hot!

Best Wishes All,
Yateendra, ("didn't get torched too bad") ex SF Garbage man

SeekHer said...

Yateendra--if your last comment was to say you're leaving us for a time; farewell and please visit again soon. I'm happy that this forum served you as an outlet during a difficult time; you certainly returned the favor with your exquisitely contemplated perspectives.

Anonymous 409, please keep writing here (although you might think to leave at least an initial or two by way of identification--the default name you've aquired reminds me too much of Formula 409--ah memories of amrit sparkle crew!) I want you to know that I personally didn't find your post to be condescending; rather it seemed to me to be an outpouring of sadness and hurt. I understand that well. When I first began to explore online forums about SY and read comments by people who either had left the yoga, or were now actively opposed to it, I also wanted to rise up in a spirited defense of everything I held to be sacred about the path, beginning with Gurumayi. If I didn't do so it was because I was afraid to even be seen frequenting a place where doubts were expressed. I'm glad you have the courage to come out and state your truth. It's your right to do so anonymously if you choose, even if you believe you know me and say so in your posts.

(Everyone, please let's all agree not to use names like "jerk" when posting-even if it is done in defense of one another. Let's avoid language that polarizes and which can only have a corrosive effect on this dialogue that's just begun and which has meaning for us all. Like Yateendra I'm happy that the kind of "hotness" found in other forums has so far been missing here.)

peace to all, Christopher

Anonymous said...

Re" " I do still practice Siddha Yoga. And I happen to feel self-inquiry is “open to the divine contradictions and bittersweet ambiguities of real life” as you put it. Yet I do admit I believe in a greater power and that everything in my life does happen for a reason. When I was a child and undergoing an extremely difficult time, I questioned God, who actually answered me by not only saying to me, “It’s all happening for the best”, He/She then filled me with a calm I never knew before. Gurumayi herself has talked about paradox. Yet ultimately I do think everything is Grace. People question that if God exists why is there suffering in the world? Is this world not a complex creation? Is it not a mystery? Ultimately you either have faith and believe in something Higher, understanding it as a play of consciousness, or you get entangled in the web of maya.------
Close:
I don’t feel you’re being kind. I do hope however you find peace of mind.

October 22, 2007 4:09 AM

------------------------------

Stop drinking the Kool Aid. This may not be a kind statement, but truly it fits. At the paragraph above you stopped making sense. The sentences did not lead from one to another in a concrete way and you started using all the very ill defined words of SY.

I think it is fine and good that you understand Gurumayi did not want people trailing her. Who could like the prison of worship?

Some advice. Stop your spiritual practices and thinking about Gurumayi and who may be criticising her. Start some online courses to get yourself employable skills. That is what God really wants you to do.

SeekHer said...

Episcopalian--

you've asked for guidance on the issue of Baba's alleged sexual activity with underage girls. I would refer you to "The Heart of the Secret: A Personal and Scholarly Encounter with Shakta Tantrism in Siddha Yoga" by Sarah Caldwell which examines this topic from the perspective of a devotee who is attempting to balance her personal experiences with Baba Muktananda with evidence that he engaged in sexual activity with female devotees. It assumes a tantric perspective not by way of excuse, but rather to understand, as you have indicated, how this practice could have fueled his initiatory power.

I highly recommend it as moving reading for everyone. The abstract can be downloaded at:
http://caliber.ucpress.net/doi/pdf/10.1525/nr.2001.5.1.9

Anonymous said...

______________________________
Former SYer and now Episcopalian, my opinion is that you are about as guilty as SM, definately.
______________________________

--Get it....read between the lines!

Anonymous said...

Hi SeekHer

I did read the article by Sarah Caldwell on the website Leaving SY. Have not seen the entire thesis. I'll check out the pdf file. I am not sure that knowing more details about tantra, as presumably practiced by SM, would change my conclusion that SY is ethically flawed at its core.

And to anonymous 7:36. I was guilty yes, and am forgiven.

As to reading between the lines ????

Episcopalian

Anonymous said...

SeekHer,

Thanks for the link to the 43 page document by Sarah Caldwell. As I recall I saw a much shorter document at LSY. Also I recognize that some of the former SYers see Caldwell's work as a sort of apologia, but I think that she makes it clear that there is an ethical issue there. Perhaps it is the idea that someone could be enlightened and at the same time acting unethically that is disturbing and I can understand that would be so.

I am hoping the article might help me in broaching the subject with my husband.

Peace and Love

Episcopalian

PS A technical note regarding the link: It took me to the Caliber site, but would not take me directly to the document. I had to do a search using "Caldwell" to locate it. And was glad to see it was available for free! Putting this here in case others want to go to it.

Anonymous said...

>>>"Thanks for the link to the 43 page document by Sarah Caldwell. As I recall I saw a much shorter document at LSY. Also I recognize that some of the former SYers see Caldwell's work as a sort of apologia, but I think that she makes it clear that there is an ethical issue there. Perhaps it is the idea that someone could be enlightened and at the same time acting unethically that is disturbing and I can understand that would be so. "<<

In my opinion, it is extremely unfortunate that Caldwell did not follow up on what she hinted at in "The Heart of the Secret" about muktananda's tantrik practices. Caldwell later discovered what was really going on had nothing to do with classic "tantrik initiation" (as described in numerous texts both in sanskrit and translation into English). She has chosen to remain silent about her further investigations in this field. One cannot blame her, considering the fallout from her article but it's painful to see her article listed as a "final authority" on the subject when so much more remains to be said. Perhaps it's a matter of "ethics".
anonymous

Just an everyday SY devotee said...

I think one of the main reasons people get upset with SY is because they have used SY as an addiction. It can be devastating when you're coming out of an addiction. The Shakti is there to speed up inner evolution, not to fuel addictive tendencies. The only function of a Guru is to ignite the Shakti in order to speed up your evolution. What the channels for the Shakti (the Gurus) do in their personal life ultimately doesn't matter in this regard. So even if you feel you have to throw away the organization for whatever reason, at least don't throw away the Shakti. "Don't throw away the baby with the bathwater."

Shakti Bhakti said...

This sexual stuff is all very weird. If Baba used sex to fuel his ability to give Shaktipat, then the same should go for Mahamandaleshwar Nityananda (Gurumayi's brother). However, his sexual stuff caused his downfall. Although I admire him for trying to continue with Baba's spiritual work to this current day, the fact remains that his shakti is not very strong. (I've met him a couple of times over the years.)

Anonymous said...

I believe it must take more than just "sexual stuff" to fuel the shakti. Else the world would be full of shaktas wouldn't it? The practitioner has to be able to harness the sexual energy and transform it. And I have no idea how that is done frankly. Well, perhaps a glimmer of an idea. ;<)

As to what is described as happening in Baba's later years, that is, his almost frenzied sexual activities, it does appear that he lost the focus of tantra and let it descend into something else. Also in the Caldwell article I did note that she seems to give Nit, jr. a bit of a "Bye." She does make it clear, at least to me, that it was ethically questionable and a departure from classical tantra to use young girls without their knowing what was going on.

To the everyday SYer, I agree about not throwing out the baby (shakti) with the bathwater. And thank God, that is not necessary. Of course in the Christian tradition it is known as the Holy Spirit.

Peace and Love to All

Episcopalian

Anonymous said...

Hello Everyday Oct 24 07 2:05PM

It is wonderful for you to connect here. It is nice to get confirmation that word is getting around about the expansion of dialogue that is happening around SY. I can't imagine putting a stop to it.

Some of your points

"I think one of the main reasons people get upset with SY is because they have used SY as an addiction."

Whether your DNA has you programmed for addiction is not the issue here. Becoming addicted to the Guru was clearly indicated and cultivated in the practices. The Guru Gita and Chitshakti Vilas are plain on that.

-------------------------

"It can be devastating when you're coming out of an addiction."

Curious Everyday on this one. What do you know about the devastation of addiction? Personal experience? Family member? Husband? Child? Has SY helped them overcome their addictions?

When people came to Baba they would throw away their dependencies. He told them to become 'dependent on me'. He would see them across. Is the cabinet full of cigarettes and syringes still in the lobby?

You say "the Shakti is there to speed up inner evolution, not to fuel addictive tendencies. The only function of a Guru is to ignite the Shakti in order to speed up your evolution."

What does this mean, 'speed up your evolution'?

Also the phrase "the only function of a Guru is to ignite the Shakti" is not reflective of the publications or teachings as shared in countless books and courses. Guidance was definitely part of the program. The name GU RU means just that. Lead you out. Not just get you fired up.

It is good to have you reading and contributing. Everyone taking the time to write is sincere, I believe that. Read what is being shared. True hearts are calling.

MC

Anonymous said...

Re: Yateendra quote "I recall a poem of Gurumayi which suggested that a love which came and went could not be love: "...love can never have a bitter ending. That was merely passion and temporary infatuation; a transaction of emotions and feelings..." The poem went on to contrast this with the Guru's love."

---------------------------

Wonderful commentary from a searching soul. Unrequited love is tough. Love that is not returned. Ouch. It's the action of Kundalini to break attachments. That's what I read anyway. It's a way of looking for evidence of God when things are going wrong, rather than right. Source: KundaliniStavha

MC

Reading with interest said...

"the same should go for Mahamandaleshwar Nityananda (Gurumayi's brother). ...to this current day, the fact remains that his shakti is not very strong. (I've met him a couple of times over the years.)"

Just the other day someone was raving to me about how incredibly strong Nit's shakti seemed to him during a recent chanting session. Interesting how subjective "facts" are, huh?

Anonymous said...

""Don't throw away the baby with the bathwater."

Should we do this even when the baby is a vampire and the bathwater is full of victims' blood?

Anonymous said...

""Don't throw away the baby with the bathwater."

Should we do this even when the baby is a vampire and the bathwater is full of victims' blood?"

In this metaphor by definition the baby is meant to represent that which is pure. If you want to switch metaphors, you can throw out whatever suits you.

Anonymous said...

"When people came to Baba they would throw away their dependencies. He told them to become 'dependent on me'."

No. Baba did not say that. In fact, he repeatedly said people who just did outer worship wouldn't receive anything. He told people to worship their own inner Self. The techniques in Play of Consciousness, etc are based on the principle that inner Guru and inner Self are one and the same.

Anonymous said...

"In this metaphor by definition the baby is meant to represent that which is pure. If you want to switch metaphors, you can throw out whatever suits you."

I was not switching metaphors. My point was, when so much corruption existed in the "path" and those who "founded" it, can true purity REALLY be found there?

The actual GG really has over 300 verses. Is a pared-down version pared down to make it more convenient, or to emphasize a certain belief-system more effectively (called "spin" in modern terms)?

Is shaktipat truly only performable by one who has reached enlightenment, or is it a "technique" that can be mastered regardless of inner attainment?

Are beliefs inculcated in us in SY REALLY part of Hindu philosophies and yogic methods when compared against the knowledge and practice of actual Indians who truly know those philosphies and methods and have for thousands of years? Or, was it really a carefully selected set of subtle suggestions designed to make us think in certain ways and believe in certain things?

FINALLY: Was Muktananda REALLY Bhagavan Nityananda's TRUE OFFICIAL successor, OR did Baba make the CLAIM to be such without providing real evidence and without others who knew Bhagavan well also validating such? In other words, did Bhagavan really not leave a true successor and was Baba really just a phony? Which, by default, would make Gurumayi and her brother Nit Junior phonies - - guilt by association?

What I am DOING is trying to spur thought on what is FACTUALLY PROVEN versus ASSUMPTION or BELIEF based on accepting "on faith" what has been heard or read, i.e., what someone else told us.

Many current "Siddhayogis" refuse to challenge such assumptions. And I can only wonder if it is because they can intuitively see that the assumptions don't hold up under the burden of fact?

Anonymous said...

>>>"Is shaktipat truly only performable by one who has reached enlightenment,"<<<
***No..I'm sure many here have met those who can "give shaktipat" and who are simply able to manipulate energetic systems..it's a "cottage industry" in certain parts of India. I've seen it myself a number of times and some of the characters were decidedly shady.

"or is it a "technique" that can be mastered regardless of inner attainment?"
**I think one could call it a "siddhi"...and most "siddhis" can be learned with the right teacher (not one of the ones who told you to "ignore siddhis as they arise..they are a dangerous distraction")



FINALLY: Was Muktananda REALLY Bhagavan Nityananda's TRUE OFFICIAL successor,
*** how can an "avadhut" have a "successor" when he, himself, is The Ashat? First of all there was no lineage. Did Nityananda Bhagavan ever mention a lineage? I've never seen or heard about it nor, apparently, has anyone else except muktananda. traditionally, a "successor" to a lineage is appointed in a ceremony (think: the 2 gurus installed by muktananda as his "successors"). How come nobody but muktananda happened to "know" that he was the "official" lineage holder? especially since no one else thought there was any lineage in the first place?
I know the story about the sandals on the head and Bhagavan reaching down muktananda's throat "giving him everything"...again, the sandals as "prasad" is a pretty common practice in certain circles. A "guru" can give padukas to several disciples at different times for various reasons. The throat thing is also well known in certain circles..a form of initiation..but NOT a form of "passing on a lineage"!!


anonymous

Anonymous said...

And how do we even know whether those events ever actually happened to Muk, or if he totally made up any of those events when he was writing POC??

The answer is: We DON'T. Muk wowed us with his shaktipat and we took what he said, wrote, did on blind faith since we'd never experienced anything like that before.

Perhaps we westerners were the ones who didn't know NOT to extrapolate that he was god incarnate because we didn't have experience with anything like that before, at least not in recent human memory. It had been just shy of 2000 years since humankind experienced anything like that.

In other words, at the time, I think we simply lacked the cultural reference points to avoid getting duped.

Anonymous said...

To Anon who wrote "I was not switching metaphors. My point was..."

I wouldn't argue with any of your points about corruption in SY. No question, it was/is rampant.

However, the metaphor of the baby and the bathwater points to something else. Many exSYers now reject God, or reject the notion of any "higher power," or reject any form spiritual practices. In other words, reject these things they associate with SY. But these things (not all "things", I'm using the word loosely) do not belong to SY. They don't belong to any group, for that matter.

So why throw out this kind of baby and denounce spirituality just because we happened onto a path that was corrupted?

Anonymous said...

When I just reread the posts in the order they were written, I see that "if the baby is a vampire..." immediately follows the post by Episcopalian, who says the Holy Spirit is the baby. So it's like the vampire poster is essentially suggesting the Holy Spirit is a vampire... Just saying...

Anonymous said...

I know there is serious discussion happening. I promise this is not meant as toll like behavior. It is just that I have this filed and it was begging to be posted. ;-)

Vampires, Mummies, and the Holy Ghost
By: Jimmy Buffett, Roger Guth, Jim Mayer, Peter Mayer
1994

Looked in my laptop, what did I see?
A flashin' message SAID Today Therapy
Rather walk through fire than converse with my shrink
But I'm getting better that's what some people think

Talk about denial and dysfunctional things
Head's like a bell somedays it dongs and it dings
ME brain'S playIN' tricks on me it likes to shift gears
Spend lots of money, but I'm tacklin' my fears

NOW
Chorus:
Vampires, mummies and the Holy Ghost
These are the things that terrify me the most
No aliens, psychopath or MTV hosts
Scare me like vampires, mummies and the Holy Ghost
Ooohh

Had a dream last night took a time travellin' ride
Back to my childhood where those monsters reside
They Snack on innocence and dine on self-esteem
But I like to be in touch with what makes me scream

Chorus:
Vampires, mummies and the Holy Ghost
These are the things that terrify me the most
No aliens, psychopath or MTV host
Scares me like vampires, mummies and the Holy Ghost

I was never ever frightened by the murderer on our block
He nurtured orchids and raised hamsters
The neighborhood is still in shock

La la la la LA, la la la la LA....
La la la la LA, la la la la la la

La la la la LA, la la la la LA....
La la la la LA, la la la la la la

So many dragons lurking out in the fog
So many crazy people mumblin' monologues
It's not the tales of Stephen King that I've read
I need protection from the things in my head

Like...

Chorus:
Vampires, mummies and the Holy Ghost
These are the things that terrify me the most
No alien, psychopath or MTV host
Scares me like vampires, mummies and the Holy Ghost

Chorus:
Vampires, mummies and the Holy Ghost
These are the things that terrify me the most
No alien, psychopath or MTV host
Scares me like vampires, mummies and the Holy Ghost

--Spoken:
"oH WHOO HOO HOO oH YOU'RE SO SCARY. Its scary out here in the world of rock n'roll. Ahh haa haa haa haah, Ah haa haa haaah. Ahh haa haa, hegh achh ach.
Scared ya, didn't I? Ha ha H

Sorry. Holloween is coming.
MC

Anonymous said...

Back to "is the Baby a vampire?" or is the Baby the Holy Spirit?

This is actually quite a profound question; that is: is the energy we experienced through Shaktipat and practicing SY ultimately divine energy or should we run from it? I recognize that the Holy Spirit blows where it will. And that good can come from questionable realms. Ultimately in reality it is coming from our deepest core anyway.

Epi

Anonymous said...

"However, the metaphor of the baby and the bathwater points to something else. Many exSYers now reject God, or reject the notion of any "higher power," or reject any form spiritual practices. In other words, reject these things they associate with SY. But these things (not all "things", I'm using the word loosely) do not belong to SY. They don't belong to any group, for that matter.

So why throw out this kind of baby and denounce spirituality just because we happened onto a path that was corrupted?"

I posted earlier about the baby being a vampire and the bathwater being full of blood.

And after reading your post above, I can see that we were talking about different things. To use a trite analogy, you were talking an apple, and I was talking an orange.

YOU were saying "don't throw out belief in God and divine energy and divine experience". You would be correct in saying that SOME exsy'ers have rejected belief in a God. I do however, think it might be a mistake to say that the majority or even simply "Lots" of exsy'ers have done so. I think many if not most still believe in a higher power of one form or another.

What I MYSELF was referring to was the oft-seen argument that I hear from SY'ers who acknowledge the abuses by Muk and the coverups by GM, yet still stay involved and still practice somewhat on their own anyway. And that argument is: "The organization was corrupt. Even the TEACHERS may have been corrupt, but that's not my personal experience. But the TEACHINGS are TRUE." For me the "baby" was the "gurus" and the "bathwater" full of blood was both the organization and "the teachings". I accept what others have postulated elsewhere that Muk and GM and the SYDA management altered Hindu-based philosophies and beliefs to suit the goal of SY for many years, which was to make a lot of money both for the foundation and for whomever the guru-in-charge happened to be at the time. Lots and LOTS of autosuggestion was made either directly or also indirection via "word of mouth" over the years, all designed to make us more pliant, money-supplying sheep.

Thus, my point was, if one could find less adulterated yogic and hindu philosopies and practices to support one's bent toward the spiritual and the divine, wonderful, but you're not likely to find it within SYDA's version of "The Teachings", which have become (IMHO) too twisted and altered for impure ulterior motives, too adulterated for specific goals, to be relied upon with any degree of faith at all. That, to me, is the bathwater, tainted with the real blood or virtual blood of SY's victims.

Note to Episcopalian and others: I was absolutely NOT connecting my metaphor with anything in Christianity. The bathwater did not mean the Holy Spirit, the baby did not equal Jesus. Christ followed his divine mission of offering up his body and his energy to save humankind and absolve their failings, forgive their humanness and inspire them away from animal nature, to help the divine nature also inherent in humankind blossom forth. He suffered physically for the good of the human race and I would never, never, EVER compare Muk nor GM to his supreme life and resurrection. Just so we're clear on what I truly meant.
Mr. Hypothetical

Anonymous said...

A friend who teaches storytelling shared what she tells people.

"we hold back from telling our hard tales because of our heads (voices that say “YOU CAN”T TALK ABOUT THAT”) and our guts, throats and heart – where we feel old feelings and something inside us feels unsafe to reenter the experience. But we are safe with sympathetic listeners and the ENERGY of pushing through will help us and will help others who hear the tale.

"others who hear and our moved by the tale, and sometimes even a character IN the tale that we begin to reconcile with or at least are less troubled by.”
-----------------------------

Free speech. Why is it we cherish it so much? I had an insight. Was reading a newsletter of an old acquaintance who turned guru. He talked about preya and shreya and the buddhi alolt. We never talked about these exact concepts much in SY. What came to me though is that in this writing of our true thoughts and feelings the buddhi releases the truth. Simple as that. Can't be stopped. Go ahead tell your story.

Blogger, in recovery from SY